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Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

Richard Feynman

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Purposely Ignoring the Obvious

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Recently, The Kent Education Association (teachers’ union) sent a letter to the Kent Board of Education complaining about a video from the Region 1 Board of Education. In so doing, they created a controversy that will hurt the positive perception of Kent Center School, and put increased pressure on the declining enrollment at that school. The union also failed to follow the contract between them and the Board, thereby apparently nulling at least part of that contract. The Board, in turn, acted inappropriately, without due diligence, and illegally, violating the Freedom of Information Act. The letter itself, which distorted the import of the video, was both immature and narcissistic. And it totally ignored the educational results of Kent Center School. The latest test results from that school show that about 30% of its graduates are not ready for high school.

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The Talking Society

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This week the All Boards Chairs (ABC) Committee of Region 1 met. They discussed the possibility of a regional coordinator of English Language Learners (ELL) in Region 1; the Region currently has 38 non-English speaking students, most speaking Spanish, Chinese and Arabic. They noted the astronomical cost per pupil of $25,608 for an elementary school education in the Region 1 due to declining enrollment. They discussed the search for a new Assistant Superintendent to replace Pam Vogel when she takes over as Superintendent next year. Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain also gave an update on regional technology discussions held by school staff members across almost all schools. But fewer of the actual Chairmen showed up at this meeting, leaving some of the decision making untended.

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The Last Frontier

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Student Portfolios

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Last Monday, the Region 1 Board of Education held a marathon meeting to start the school year. At the beginning, two teachers from Housatonic spent some time describing the development of Student Led Conferences, an effort now being spearheaded by the teachers. This builds on the effort to improve student ownership of their education and communication between the school and the parents. Then Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez, with assistance from the guidance department, described the outcomes of the class of 2016 (where they went after graduation) and the outcome of the SAT tests for last year’s juniors. Once again, the Board discussed the academic eligibility of athletes at Housatonic with Athletic Director Anne MacNeil. And they decided that there was no need to apologize to the Kent teachers’ union for the video shown to all teachers at the beginning of the school year.

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CABE Recognizes Moore’s Achievements

Region 1 Board Menber Jonathan Moore

Region 1 Board Menber Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore, a member of the Region One Board of Education, recently achieved the level of Certified Board of Education Member in the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Board Member Academy for the 2015-2016 school year.  Jonathan was one of 31 board of education members recognized for their achievement in participating in numerous hours of board-related professional development activities. A board member must accumulate at least 20 credits to become a Certified Board of Education Member.

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Region 1 Lighthouse Response

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Learning is not attained by chance…

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So begins the first important memorandum in a most complex educational case by Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, with a quote from Abagail Adams. He has been asked to rule on the case of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) versus the State of Connecticut. The plaintiffs challenged the state’s financing for PK-12 education. This case has been ongoing since 2005.

However, in addressing the concerns of the plaintiffs, Moukawsher delves into the very foundations of education in Connecticut. He summarizes that state policies on education must at least be rational, substantial, and verifiable. He then spends considerable effort to show that the current state policies do not meet these criteria. He directs a judgement partially favoring the plaintiffs, and directs the State to provide remedies in more than just the manner of funding. The beat picks up again in 180 days.

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A Safe Space

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This week, the Kent Board of Education met for the first time in the new school year. They filled a vacancy with Martin Lindenmayer, one of several candidates who were interviewed. Vice-Chairman Allan Priaulx will serve as Chairman until the next election. They voted retroactively to pay for the replacement of the fire alarm system which failed just before school opened: total cost $32,985. (The school couldn’t open without this repair by Northwest Alarm who responded with alacrity.) Principal Florence Budge reported on the various activities at the opening of school; she also noted the hiring of a new teacher, Marilyn Dwyer, for 5-6th Social Studies. And the Board received a letter from the teacher’s union at Kent Center School (KCS) complaining about a video by the Region 1 Board of Education. The Region 1 Board of Education administers Housatonic Valley Regional High School, not Kent Center School.

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Pudong from the Bund

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Education for the Rest of Us

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Education in the public school systems frequently undergoes changes accompanied by much jargon which can be confusing. The Common Core of learning was just such a change, not because of poor intent, but because of poor execution. Many parents could not relate to the education being given to their children. And parental support is one of the most important factors in a student’s education. Any change must have the support of parents.

The latest innovation in public school education is Personalized Learning, with various meanings attached to that term. Basically, such teaching requires fitting instruction to each student’s needs while maintaining standard objectives like reading, writing and arithmetic (remember science). Because students learn at different rates, instruction cannot be uniform, one size fits all as it is today. Making learning specific to each student requires more interaction with teachers, but the rewards are more student involvement. And personalized learning is now the direction of public education in Region 1. It is being implemented in its schools at various rates. Why is it important to understand this change?

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